A Grain of Rice

by Fernando Perfas

My mother treated a grain of rice like manna, which God provided the Israelites for sustenance in their years of wanderings in the desert out of Egypt. When we spilled rice, she would demand that we pick-up the grains and leave out none. Rice was so important that she would make sure we had plenty of it before other necessities. Her frugal ways about rice applied to other food resources. She would reprimand us when we helped ourselves with food to our plates in excess of our appetite. She advised us to eat everything we put on our plates. Mostly, I thought her ways was such because she was afraid, we would run out of food to eat.

In addition to her frugality, she abhors wastefulness and it was a sacrilege to throw food away. She treated clean water the same way. There was a time when my family had little access to clean running water. Mom would instruct us efficient ways of bathing using ladle or tabo and a pail of water. The scarcity of these important resources early in life taught us to conserve them. This was how she raised her children and such conditioning die hard even when I found myself under better circumstances. I may be prone to occasional extravagance about certain things, which often gnaws at my conscience; otherwise, I’m generally frugal (matipid) in my ways. The proverbial “money does not grow on trees,” (although we chop down trees to print bills), in Mom’s voice, I still hear in my head during my occasional splurges.

“The scarcity of these important resources early in life taught us to conserve them. This was how she raised her children and such conditioning die hard even when I found myself under better circumstances.”

If only Mom could witness how some affluent societies take for granted their easy access to food supply and the wasteful manners by which they treat food and water, she would probably turn in her grave. For some of us who live in places where hunger and famine are not the regular facts of life, it is rather easy to ignore simple ways to avoid unnecessary waste. Let’s start with some attitudinal adjustments by reminding ourselves that the basic resources needed for survival are finite. They will not last forever. The first thing to consider is how, for example, our propensities for comfort and convenience may lead to waste.

Frugality is not out of step when we find ourselves dealing with declining food supply and shrinking sources of clean water and energy to satisfy the needs of an ever expanding world population.”

Think of the millions of children, women, and elderly living in critical areas of the world where hunger is the number one killer. Places where people hike miles to get access to water. Frugality is not out of step when we find ourselves dealing with declining food supply and shrinking sources of clean water and energy to satisfy the needs of an ever expanding world population.

Let’s remember a few simple things that can help curb wastefulness. Our appetite often deludes us about how much we can really consume. It has a bigger mouth than what our belly can hold.

Be thoughtful when considering purchases of items such as home appliances. Go green even when it may cost a little more. In the long run, they often come out much cheaper. Recycle or re-purpose items at home as much as you can. Your local hardware or grocery stores are not going to get bankrupt anytime soon. Program your air-conditioning according to the time when you most need it and consider turning them off and cracking your windows open when weather allows. Don’t forget. Recycle! Recycle! Recycle!

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